Antioxidants and their health benefits

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If you’ve read anything about health lately, you will have seen the word “antioxidant”. It’s definitely a buzzword, but what does it mean?

What are antioxidants and why are they good for us?

Antioxidants are compounds that support cellular health and help protect us against things that can damage our body cells.  These include pollution, cigarette smoke, chemicals (environmental, household and garden), alcohol and certain foods (such as fried foods). Essentially, antioxidants help neutralise the substances that can cause cellular damage. Antioxidants benefit everyone, and because we can be more susceptible to the effects of pollutants or harmful chemicals in ageing, it can also pay to increase your antioxidant intake as you age. 

Antioxidant foods

Antioxidants are often found in plant foods that are richly coloured, such as the dark cacao bean (in dark chocolate), bright red raspberries or dark green kale.  They are still present in less colourful foods though, such as white cauliflower.  They’re also abundant in foods we don’t usually consume in our everyday diet like turmeric or cloves. 
All berries are regarded for their antioxidant activity. It’s thought that flavonoids in foods like blueberries, green tea, apples, cocoa, red wine and onions reduce the risk of catching ills and chills.

Eating five serves of vegetables and two of fruit each day, in a variety of colours, will put you well on the path to getting enough flavonoids. 

Make sure your dinner plate is at least half full of vegetables, sip green tea over winter and enjoy the occasional red wine.  

Sweet treats

Many foods containing antioxidants taste sweet so they’re easy to add to your diet too, as enjoyable treats.  Berries are loved by many.  Dark chocolate is a favourite amongst the health conscious and there is a wide choice available on the market. 

Always remember to check chocolate, food and drink labels for sugar.  Sugar is often added to dark chocolate because it can be quite bitter without it.  Sugar is also commonly added to antioxidant fruit juices.  But it’s best to check labels and choose sugar free, for the sake of your teeth and overall wellbeing. 

Eye Health

For example, in age related eye disease where light damage is a factor, antioxidants play a scientifically studied role.  The brightly coloured carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, found in leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach and in supplements such as Blackmores Lutein Defence and Blackmores Lutein Vision Advanced, have been shown to support protection of the macula, our centre of vision.

Lutein and zeaxanthin contribute to a protective pigment called macular pigment which has antioxidant activity and helps filter damaging blue light.  

Other eye antioxidant nutrients are bilberry and grapeseed, found in Blackmores Bilberry Eye Support Advanced to support eye strain and fatigue.   

Immune Defence

Other fighting herbs, known for their potent antioxidant properties too, are Echinacea, Andrographis and Reishi mushroom. These powerful herbs support the body’s immune defences and healthy recovery.  You’ll find them in Blackmores Immune Defence Ultra

Brain health

The antioxidant turmeric, which contains curcumin, found in Blackmores Turmeric One-a-day is also highly praised for its support for joints and cognitive function.  Turmeric can be particularly supportive in ageing, when you may find your brain isn’t as quick as it once was and your joints need support too. 

As with most dietary advice, variety and freshness are key.  Get some of your antioxidants from juicy berries, some from brightly coloured vegetables like tomatoes and capsicums, some from greens and some from herbs such as turmeric and ginger.  

Eat fresh and make smoothies or choose an antioxidant rich supplement with the right ingredients for your health needs.  

The key with any supplements, including antioxidants, is to buy from a reputable source and choose a product that contains a scientifically studied ingredient and dose. This is Blackmores’ point of difference. 

Check with your healthcare professional if you’re taking medication.  Always read the label and use as directed.  If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional.